Walleye

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Walleye (Sander vitreus, formerly Stizostedion vitreum) is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch. The walleye is sometimes also called the yellow walleye to distinguish it from the blue walleye, which is an extinct subspecies formerly found in the southern Great Lakes.

In some parts of its range, the walleye is known as the colored pike, yellow pike or pickerel (esp. in English-speaking Canada), although the fish is related neither to the pikes nor to the other pickerels, both of which are members of the family Esocidae.

Genetically, walleyes show a fair amount of variation across watersheds. In general, fish within a watershed are quite similar and are genetically distinct from those of nearby watersheds. The species has been artificially propagated for over a century and has been planted on top of existing populations or introduced into waters naturally devoid of the species, sometimes reducing the overall genetic distinctiveness of populations.

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Meaning of the name

The common name, "walleye," comes from the fact that their eyes, like those of cats, reflect light. This "eyeshine" is the result of a light-gathering layer in the eyes called the tapetum lucidum which allows the fish to see well in low-light conditions. In fact, many anglers look for walleyes at night since this is when major feeding patterns occur. The fish's eyes also allow them to see well in turbid waters (stained or rough, breaking waters) which gives them an advantage over their prey. Thus, walleye anglers will commonly look for days and locations where there is a good "walleye chop" (i.e., rough water). This excellent vision also allows the fish to populate the deeper regions in a lake and they can often be found in deeper water, particularly during the warmest part of the summer.

Physical description

Walleyes are largely olive and gold in colour (hence the French common name: doré — golden). The dorsal side of a walleye is olive, grading into a golden hue on the flanks. The olive/gold pattern is broken up by five darker saddles that extend to the upper sides. The colour shades to white on the belly. The mouth of a walleye is large and is armed with many sharp teeth. The first dorsal and anal fins are spinous as is the operculum. Walleyes are distinguished from their close cousin the sauger by the white colouration on the lower lobe of the caudal fin which is absent on the sauger. In addition, the two dorsals and the caudal fin of the sauger are marked with distinctive rows of black dots which are absent from or indistinct on the same fins of walleyes.[1]

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